Jan 8 Blogging Challenges

I’ve been out of the loop, detached, lost.

But A J Juliani’s newsletter reached out and shook me up: Keep going. 

I love thinking and writing: my fingers tapping the keys while thoughts form typed words where something new or remixed comes alive. It will be how I keep going in these, my sad times.

Challenge Info from A J Juliani: a very open 30 day blogging challenge #30daysblogging

What to do: 

1 Sign up on the blog: A J Juliani 30 Day Blogging Challenge.

2 Set goals in the comments.

My Goals:

“Thanks AJ. I’ve been taking a break, and it’s time to start the new year with this great push to write.

1. Write at least 140 words a day (some may be personal writing)

2. Publish on my blog 2 to 3 times a week: Tuesday Slice of Life; Thursday poetry post; Friday reflection post or DigiLit Sunday post with Margaret Simon who blogs here.

3. I’d like to incorporate new media…video or audio.

Thanks to Julie Johnson’s comment for the blogging ideas.”

3. Start.

Since AJ’s blogging challenge is 30 days, I found two more challenges that might inspire you as well, especially if you’ve been distracted or distressed and need new inspiration for looking forward, planning forward, and developing forward progress. And what about the critics? Read AJ’s post here on “Fighting Fear and Anxiety Sharing Your Work with the World.”  And, just maybe, you need to a way to keep forward progress in these confusing times, a way to do what Drew Frank shared from John Lewis: “Get into trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble!”

So, just keep adding good inspiration to your “30 Days” or add these challenges:

The Edublogs Club, which I found from AJ’s comments leading to this story; It’s a weekly challenge [you can do this!]

#BlogaMonth with Drew Frank [for sure, you can do this!]

Just remember: keep going.


Image: Sheri Edwards

Jan 7 Community History

Jan 7 Community History

I live in a community composed of five towns: Electric City, Grand Coulee, Coulee Dam, Elmer City, and Nespelem. We are tied together in a history that dates to the building of Grand Coulee Dam. It’s a rich history forged in a tumultuous time, during the Great Depression, in which our solution to the devastation was the New Deal: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s determination to help the American people. Grand Coulee Dam was one of the great infrastructure components. Thousands of people flocked to work on one of the wonders of the world, the largest gravity dam and concrete structure in the world at the time which would not only provide power but also irrigation to hundreds of thousands of miles of semi-arid lands, giving life to the land. It’s power provided the electricity to build the warplanes that helped win World War II. And that dam stopped the migration of salmon, the mainstay of food for the local Native American tribes, who had been forced onto a reservation, the roads closed, and families visiting each other from other areas of the Pacific Northwest found themselves trapped and forced to stay as well. The original reservation was formed in 1872 by Executive Order of President Grant. The reservations are sovereign nations, many with treaties with the United States of America. 

Nespelem, a town just northeast of the Columbia River’s turn to the west, is the tribal agency for the Colville Confederated Tribes. The reservation borders the Columbia River [in the portion behind Chief Joseph Dam called Lake Rufus Woods], which flows through Elmer City and Coulee Dam, is blocked by the Grand Coulee Dam to form Lake Roosevelt behind it, and provides the water that forms Banks Lake which borders Electric City. East Coulee Dam sits on the reservation; West Coulee Dam does not. Between Coulee Dam below the Grand Coulee Dam and Electric City above the Dam is the town of Grand Coulee. The five towns are tied by the water and land where the people live who make this semi-arid shrub-steppe biome their home.

So, we are a community rich in history, a history built on the culture of those who chose to live here. Nespelem, of course, is home to Native Americans whose own rich history spans thousands of years. It had it’s own businesses, schools, agencies, attractions— and it’s own history of converging cultures. When the Grand Coulee Dam was built, west Coulee Dam was home to engineers, the designers and supervisors. East Coulee Dam was home to workers; originally it was called Mason City and was to be a model town for the New Deal. Grand Coulee arose from the thousands who came, living in tents and make-shift shacks hoping for work at the Dam, or creating their own work and businesses to serve the thousands arriving to work. Elmer City, on the Colville Reservation, was incorporated in 1947. Electric City incorporated in 1950.

Yes, I live in a community composed of five towns: Electric City, Grand Coulee, Coulee Dam, Elmer City, and Nespelem. And as a rural community, our identity flows from family, friends, and neighbors who find ways to work together to support our community. We’re still working on that part; communities of diverse cultures take time to nurture.


Image: Marked up NASA Public Domain

#blogamonth So many “news”


A new year…
A new group of students…
New curriculum…
New colleagues…
New mandates…
How do we begin anew? How do we begin anew with all the “news” we encounter?

Yes, so much to do.


Do a little more each day than you think you possibly can. ~Lowell Thomas

At the end of the day before leaving work or finishing up at home, I ask myself, “What must be ready to be successful tomorrow?” I organize for that, keeping in mind the larger goals as well. I consider broad goals and small steps; my lessons and projects have essential questions, and I know a path for myself and the possible path for the students. Daily lessons are not needed in advance; they develop based on our progress and goals we set to respond to our questions and to our feedback to each other. Of course, for all the requirements for committees, I guide my work with the big goal, the big question to answer, and keep a running set of tasks, collaborations, reflections, documentation, to stay focused and responsive with colleagues. Google Apps keeps all this shared, ready, and organized.


I strive to do the best I can, yet I keep in mind that we are not perfect and mistakes will occur. I check things over, but know when to stop; I am professional, but not a perfectionist; I know I can do better tomorrow. We are all still learning; we’re human.

So, I go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness, encouraging those I work with, students and staff, to build community, to grow better together.









I know, for myself, my students, and my colleagues, that life happens.




These two ideas are key: life happens; mistakes happen. But there is no problem so great that we cannot fix, solve, or cope. These are lessons learned and ideas discussed frequently — until the students begin to share and encourage each other.

This flag hung in my classrooms for thurry-one years: a story for myself and my students. A first grade student brought his flag to me in tears because he had colored one fat red stripe at the top. “I ruined it,” he stuttered. I grabbed a white piece of paper and held it in my hands, asking him, “What could we do to fix that?” The sobs and a head shake, “ I don’t know.” I smiled, gently moving the white paper in front of me while looking at the red stripe. “I wonder how we could fix this?” I asked again. I waited. After a few tearful moments, the young boy said, “I could cut a white stripe and tape it there!” And that’s what he did. We support each other in solving problems, not to do for others, but to guide them to their own solutions.



Life is a journey — live to enjoy the struggle and make the world better. And then, all the “news” are welcome.

We have a lot of “news,” and our attitude and our relationships move us forward.




A new year… welcome!

A new group of students… I’m glad you’re here.

New curriculum… Let’s see what we can make of this together.

New colleagues… Welcome; let me know if I can help.

New mandates… Bring ‘em on! We’ll do more and better!
How do we begin anew? Focus forward. I can. You can. We can. And Thank you.

Image Credits:

All images by Sheri  Edwards  on Flickr

Slice of Life Spring Break


Real readers find a place to read that’s cozy so they can relax and immerse themselves in the world of their tale. During lessons, they’re antsy learning new skills and they’re distracted by their neighbors. But during self-chosen reading, they’re cozy wrapped up in the wanderings in their new worlds, pulled into the their characters and connecting  to the action and conversation. They’re excited to share the antics of characters as they solve their problems. Sharing time starts with a burst of babbling we tame to take turns sharing the tales: from dinosaurs to diaries, wizards to warriors, each student spins the story or information that surprises them and keeps them reading the next day.

spring chalk

And during the short break during Chalk Doodle Granny Wacky Prize, we learn what’s really on their minds.

spring break chalk

So, grab a great read, find your cozy corner, and wander through a new world during your spring break!

Slice of Life Leadership



David Geurin is a “principal and lead learner at Bolivar High School in Bolivar, Missouri.”  I enjoy learning from him, and following the link in the above tweet lead me to David’s perceptive post on leadership:

What Great Leaders Do Differently 2016

“Leaders set out to make a difference.” In education that is so true: the goal is always to make teaching and learning better, to make a difference. Leaders have a vision for reaching goals, and great leaders share that leadership. In David’s post, you’ll see that “difference” in his list.

I especially find this one important:

3. They come from every corner of the school (students, teachers, support staff, etc.—not just admin). Leadership is more about disposition than position. Great leaders help develop new leaders and share leadership roles with others.

In all the posts and discussions on leadership that I have read, these ideas are considered important to promote collaboration among participants: the value of sharing leadership roles, of listening carefully to others, and of finding leadership in others throughout the school. We learn and grow together– shared leadership grows a community of practice intent on continuous learning and improvement.

Which leadership action or trait do you consider vital to your organization?


Slice of Life I Missed Venice

3483444919_01e38b03b1_b venice

I’m in class all day. But my granddaughter currently travels throughout Italy with a backpack and an adventurous attitude. Her blog says:

 A vacation is a break from everyday life that in the end leaves you to return to the same pattern.

This is a factory reset. The goal is to come back as someone completely new, refreshed, and open minded.

To rediscover what it is to be human, not to be an American.

~Allison Fischer

That’s quite a statement. “To rediscover what it is to be human, not an American.” Imagine understanding the world from a human perspective, rather than a national or personal perspective.  I’ve heard that some where; I believe that somewhere. Imagine.

Today, she enjoyed Venice, a city I would love to visit. I missed her travels there and any live feeds while I was teaching and at the dentist. I can hardly wait to learn about her visit. She always talks to the local residents and learns about each city and place she visits. Just think of a city whose roads are rivers, or rather canals fluctuating with the sea’s tide and connecting the tiny islands from which the city arose ten years before the birth of Jesus.

I would have loved to see this city as she floated through the canals, winding through the waterways. What would that be like?  The colors in the pictures of the houses and shops, the waves reflecting the lights of the sun, the moon, the city lights, or perhaps the fishy smell from the sea, or the constant sounds of boats bouncing on the waves and clanking on the docks.  What happens when the tide recedes? So many questions about such a different type of city.

As a child, the journeys and story of the Venetian Marco Polo intrigued me — how he needed to open his mind and be more than a Venetian; I’m sure that’s why Venice has always been interesting as well.

And Allison is my Marco Polo.


I missed it.



Writing Strategy:

Wonderment: asking questions

Links:  Venice, Marco Polo, Allison’s blog, Imagine.










Image Source: Venice by Dominic Sherony

Slice of Life Cobbles



Her feet hurt.

For hours she walked upon volcanic basalt cubes, the cobblestone streets of ancient Rome. One foot carefully placed, then another. Step by step in shoes without support in the arch or ankle, she tread through the tiny alleyways winding in ancient patterns to the places most of us only dream or read about: the Colosseum and the Pantheon.

The cobblestones cover the streets in the ancient city of Rome. They are cubes of basalt, a hard volcanic rock. The basalt cubes lay spaced atop the earth below, fitting together loosely to allow them to form to the earth. Settling into the ground, the cubes are uneven in height, creating a difficult terrain, much less friendly than the soft earth on the mountains of home in Washington State, where the wet earth would cushion her step beneath the tall firs.

The well-worn cobbles, two-thousand years old, welcome travelers; their unevenness forces them to notice the rugged roadway, and to notice each step of their adventure through the winding streets. Just as the firs of home have beckoned her towards the next bend in the narrow path,  the rows of cobbles now seem to say, “You’re almost there. Look ahead– look around the corner; there’s more to see. You can do it.”

The adventure itself eases her pain as she stops for a chocolate frappe and chats with locals. She steps back onto the cobbles, joins the troupe of travelers, and turns the corner to discover a new destination ahead, which will be followed by more.

Her feet quicken.


Public Domain Image: South_east_view_of_the_Pantheon_from_Piazza_Minerva

Life in Italy: Sampietrini

About the Roman Cobbles BBC


Writing Strategy:


Develop the topic with relevant facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.

Layer each idea one upon another.


For hours she walked upon volcanic basalt cubes, the cobblestone streets of ancient Rome. One foot carefully placed, then another. Step by step in shoes without support in the arch or ankle, she tread through the tiny alleyways winding in ancient patterns to the places most of us only dream or read about.

walk — ON cobblestone streets—  BY foot — EACH step –WILL tread — THROUGH alleyways —  TO places

Alliteration:  — repeated beginning consonant sounds –

s – Step by step in shoes without support

c – cobblestones cover

d- discover a new destination

Strong Verbs:  walk, tread, creating, welcomes, beckoned, steps, joins